Rubidoux Resist! Students Walkout, Parents/Community Members Rally at High School as District Places Teacher on Leave to Investigate Racist Comments on Social Media
The Southwest Political Report
By: Irene Sanchez
On Friday February 17, 2017, students walked out of Rubidoux High School around noon as the district put nearby campuses on lockdown as students marched from Rubidoux to nearby Patriot High School and down the main throughway of Mission Blvd in the community. For more information about the walkout please see The Press Enterprise article.
Parents and community members gathered at 2:30pm to rally with students to protest racist comments made by teachers at Rubidoux High School on social media the previous day.
On Thursday February 16, 2017 some students at Rubidoux High School in Jurupa Valley, CA (located about 50 miles east of Los Angeles and near the city of Riverside), participated in #daywithoutimmigrants which was a nationwide protest of the policies and practices targeting immigrants under the Trump era. The intention was to show the impact of immigrant presence and what a day would look like without their labor in particular. Many business were shut down as a result of the protest for not having enough workers to open that day.
Six teachers at Rubidoux High School decided to take their beliefs to social media and expressed their “delight” in having immigrant students out for the day and asked if it could happen more. They claimed they had smaller class sizes that and commented on how much cleaner the school was with one teacher saying “more please” and others commenting how the #daywithoutimmigrants should be done more often. One teacher in particular who began the thread commented that students who participated in the day used it as an excuse to get “drunk” and characterized them as “lazy”.
A woman named Guadalupe Lopez posted photos of the screenshots of the teachers conversations to her social media page and brought the sentiment of these teachers to light. What her posting did Thursday evening was begin a series of calls for the teachers to be held accountable by students, alumni, and concerned community members. Rubidoux High School currently serves about 1,600 students of which 91 percent are Chicanx/Latinx. The original posts can be found here on Guadalupe Lopez’ page.
Upon arrival to the rally, students were seen marching down Riverview towards Mission Blvd. There were about 10-15 police cars following the students as the group marched down the street peacefully. A crowd of parents and community members including alumni, educators and some members from the Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Coalition gathered at 2:30pm in front of Rubidoux High School. The crowd was met with RHS staff standing behind a gate and the principal of the high school as well as superintendent could be seen behind the gate with Riverside County Sheriffs.
At around 3pm, the superintendent came to talk to parents, but talked down to them and in condescending tones to the community that was also there to support. He also denied interviews to Telemundo after asking where the reporter was from. A facebook live video that captured part of this interaction can be seen here.
In the end the Superintendent declined to entertain the idea of a community forum on campus any time soon and reiterated how because the investigation was under way the teachers were not to comment on the events and that the teachers were on paid leave at this time. Superintendent Duchon, also told a mother after she asked what happened and why the teachers were not being disciplined that “This is America, as we treat your children fairly, we will treat our teachers fairly also”.
When Superintendent Duchon was called out by an IEIYC member for standing blocking the gate to campus and talking to the community from that place, he walked into the crowd and said, “I’ve lived in this community for 37 years, this is my community, my children went to school here, and my wife went to school here”. The IEIYC member then responded how this is a changing community and that the people present are part of the community as well and the campus should be open to them and especially the parents for dialogue. The Rubidoux High School student body is approximately 90 percent Latinx students.
Community members stayed after the administration left and Riverside County Sheriffs closed the gates. They stayed out in the rain protesting for an hour and students who were previously marching down Mission Blvd joined the rally. At one point a white supremacist got out of his vehicle to yell at the students and how this was “his street”, a community member confronted the man to get him away from the students and the man got back in his car and left. Video.
There is a JUSD school board meeting this Tuesday February 21, 2017 at 6pm. Meetings are held in the Board Room at the Benita E. Roberts Education Center, 4850 Pedley Road, Jurupa Valley, CA 92509. Students, Parents, Alumni, and Community Members plan to attend to continue to voice their concerns about the recent comments from teaches and the continued mistreatment of Latinx students in JUSD.
Photos: Irene Sanchez, The Southwest Political Report